VA Secretary David Shulkin has an armed guard outside his office to protect him from his own staffMarch 9, 2018
With Trump's top chief of staff pick Nick Ayers out, it's unclear who wants the job12:55 a.m.
Trump's top pick to replace John Kelly as chief of staff bows out, will also leave the White House12:10 a.m.
Rand Paul says he's 'concerned' and 'disturbed' by Trump's new pick for attorney generalDecember 9, 2018
China summons U.S., Canadian ambassadors to protest tech executive's arrestDecember 9, 2018
SNL asks: What if the Trumps were black?December 9, 2018
Trump rages over Comey's testimony and the 'Rigged Fraud' to prevent his presidencyDecember 9, 2018
Major winter storm brings unusual snow to SoutheastDecember 9, 2018
Things are getting messy at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In a large and unsettling report about the inner-workings of the VA published Friday, The Washington Post reveals that the department's internecine squabbling has gotten so bad that VA Secretary David Shulkin has taken dramatic action to shield himself from his own advisers:
[Shulkin] is managing the government's second-largest bureaucracy from a fortified bunker atop the agency's Washington headquarters.
He has canceled the morning meetings once attended by several of President Trump's political appointees — members of his senior management team — gathering instead with aides he trusts not to miscast his remarks. Access to Shulkin's 10th-floor executive suite was recently revoked for several people he has accused of lobbying the White House to oust him. He and his public-affairs chief have not spoken in weeks.
And in a sign of how deeply the secretary's trust in his senior staff has eroded, an armed guard now stands outside his office. [The Washington Post]
Perhaps the armed freeze-out isn't unexpected, though, given Shulkin has been public with his desire to clean house at the department. Last month, Shulkin told Politico that he was investigating "subversion" within his group, with the intent that anyone who disobeys him "won't be working in my operation."
"This is a salacious conspiracy, and it's treason," the national director of the country's largest veterans group told the Post about the department's dysfunction under Shulkin, who served as an undersecretary at the VA in the Obama administration. Read more about the troubled VA at The Washington Post. Kimberly Alters
With Nick Ayers unexpectedly taking himself out of the running to be President Trump's next chief of staff, Trump "finds himself in the unaccustomed position of having no obvious second option," The New York Times reports. Several names are being floated to replace Chief of Staff John Kelly, including White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), and former Trump campaign official David Bossie.
But unusually, it's not clear who's even interested in the job. Meadows, a far-right Trump loyalist, wants the position but Trump isn't sure, Politico reports, and Mnuchin "isn't eager to take the post." Mulvaney also is "not interested in becoming chief of staff," The Associated Press reports, and The Washington Post says the White House is reluctant to move Lighthizer because of his key role in trade negotiations with China.
White House chief of staff has traditionally been a stepping stone to greater power, but Trump's first two chiefs of staff, "Kelly and Reince Priebus before him, have left as diminished and arguably humiliated figures, unable to control the wild chaos of this president's White House," Politico notes. "Priebus was marginalized and mocked before he was abandoned on an airport tarmac," and "Trump had recently stopped speaking to Kelly," who "wasn't even allowed to announce his own resignation despite a reported agreement with Trump that he could do so."
"You really do have to wonder why anybody would want to be Donald Trump's White House chief of staff given that so far it's been mission impossible," Chris Whipple, the author of a history of White House chiefs of staff, tells Politico. And Kelly's successor will also have to deal with a tough re-election campaign, an incoming Democratic House majoriy, and a special counsel investigation that is circling ever closer to the White House. Peter Weber
President Trump was so confident that Nick Ayers, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, would be his next chief of staff that the White House has already drafted the announcement, The New York Times reports. Instead, on Sunday evening, Ayers confirmed that he is leaving the White House at the end of the year, around the same time as outgoing White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Ayers, 36 and the father of young triplets, reportedly agreed to be Trump's chief of staff on a short-term basis, but Trump wanted a chief of staff that would stay through the rest of his first term. Ayers will apparently head a pro-Trump super PAC from Georgia.
"For decades, the job of White House chief of staff was once among Washington's most desirable jobs — a pinnacle of access and power," Politico notes. "It's a different story under Trump. A job that was once a ticket to Washington royalty has recently become a laughing stock."
Still, advisers to Trump were "stunned by the turn of events," and "one former senior administration official called it a humiliation for Mr. Trump and his adult children, an emotion that the president tries to avoid at all costs," reports Maggie Haberman at Times. "With a head of blond hair, Mr. Ayers somewhat resembles Mr. Trump in his younger days, a fact that the president often looks for as a positive signal. The president had an unusual affinity for Mr. Ayers, telling aides who expressed concern about Mr. Ayers that he liked him."
Trump downplayed the news, tweeting Sunday night: "Fake News has been saying with certainty it was Nick Ayers, a spectacular person who will always be with our #MAGA agenda. I will be making a decision soon!" Peter Weber
"I'm concerned that [Barr has] been a big supporter of the Patriot Act, which lowered the standard for spying on Americans," Paul said. "And he even went so far as to say, you know, 'The Patriot Act was pretty good, but we should go much further.'"
"I'm disturbed that he's been a big fan of taking people's property, civil asset forfeiture, without a conviction," Paul continued. "Many poor people in our country have cash taken from them, and then the government says, 'Prove to us where you got the cash, and then you can get it back.' But the burden is on the individual. It's a terrible thing called civil asset forfeiture. He's a big fan of that."
Paul noted he has not yet decided how he will vote on Barr's nomination. Watch the full interview below. Talk of Barr begins around the eight-minute mark, and Paul and host Chuck Todd also discuss Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, Saudi Arabia, and more. Bonnie Kristian
Meng was taken into custody in Vancouver, Canada, on Dec. 1, at U.S. direction. She faces extradition to the United States, where she is accused of helping Huawei, a major electronics manufacturer, evade American sanctions on Iran.
Beijing said the arrest "severely violated the Chinese citizen's legal and legitimate rights and interests," calling it "lawless, reasonless, and ruthless, and ... extremely vicious." Canada should "release the detainee immediately and earnestly protest the person's legal and legitimate rights and interests," the statement said, "otherwise it will definitely have serious consequences, and the Canadian side will have to bear the full responsibility for it." Bonnie Kristian
What if the Trumps were black? That's the question asked in Saturday Night Live's trailer for Them Trumps, an imaginary new series from the makers of Empire.
Them Trumps has a solid concept and a strong line-up: President Darius Trump (Kenan Thompson), first lady Malika (Leslie Jones), Darius Jr. (Chris Redd), and L’evanka (Ego Nwodim). Where it struggles is length, as the black Trump can't seem to avoid arrest as easily as his white counterpart.
"Maybe I've done some dirty things. But I'm making America great again," Thompson's Trump rants. "And what these feds don't realize is that I'm the president, the most powerful man in the most respected office in the world. They can't lock me up, and even though I may be black—"
That's when the feds show up. Watch the full sketch below. Bonnie Kristian
The House Judiciary and Oversight Committees on Saturday evening released a transcript of former FBI Director James Comey's lengthy testimony from the day before — and President Trump, naturally, denied it all early Sunday:
On 245 occasions, former FBI Director James Comey told House investigators he didn’t know, didn’t recall, or couldn’t remember things when asked. Opened investigations on 4 Americans (not 2) - didn’t know who signed off and didn’t know Christopher Steele. All lies!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2018
Leakin’ James Comey must have set a record for who lied the most to Congress in one day. His Friday testimony was so untruthful! This whole deal is a Rigged Fraud headed up by dishonest people who would do anything so that I could not become President. They are now exposed!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 9, 2018
A major winter storm began Saturday in southeastern states, especially North and South Carolina, and is expected to bring unusually heavy snow through Monday. "Snowfall amounts in some locations will likely exceed a foot and result in several days of difficult or impossible travel, extended power outages, and downed trees," the National Weather Service warned.
Here are the NWS collaborated Key Messages for winter aspects of the southern storm, per our colleagues @NWSWPC. The most glaring concern is the expected snow accumulations and likely travel hazards from the southern Appalachians into parts of the Carolinas and southern VA. #snow pic.twitter.com/4ZAClPnE4u
— NWS (@NWS) December 8, 2018
Already more than 200,000 customers in the region have lost power, the bulk of them in North Carolina, and hundreds of flights were grounded Sunday. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) urged residents to stay safe indoors. "Snow may be beautiful, but it can also be treacherous, and I urge North Carolinians to take this storm seriously and get ready for it now," he said. Bonnie Kristian